THE CHASSAHOWITZKA WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA is known around Florida and beyond as a refuge for approximately 250 species of birds, more than 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, and at least 25 different species of mammals.
It’s also home to something a bit more unexpected — a distillery.
Nestled on 80 acres inside the wildlife management area is NJoy Spirits Distillery, a more than 3,000-square-foot distillery that uses rye grain and sugarcane grown right on the premises to produce award-winning whiskey, rum and moonshine made from purified rainwater.
Founded and operated by Kevin and Natalie Goff, the facility isn’t hidden among bushes or covered with a tarp. It’s wide open for tourists and visitors to peruse and sample products while escaping urban life and taking in the natural surroundings and wildlife found in the management area.
Natalie Goff, 55, says running a distillery is quite different from her work as a registered nurse. She and her 63-year-old husband, Kevin, a contractor, decided to open NJoy after buying the property and a suggestion by her father to build a distillery there in 2002.
They used their own money to finance the construction, and in 2012 NJoy became licensed by the state and formally opened to the public.
Njoy Spirits received zoning approval in 2012 for a distillery, but that didn’t include a permit petition for events or tours. In February of 2018, the Hernando County Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval to hold events and tours.
Since then, the Goffs — along with a bartender – have worked with barley, malting, mashing, fermentation and distillation to keep the products flowing.
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